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I was reading something quite embarrassing on the weekend (I think it might have been the Style section of The Sunday Times), but there was something in it that I thought might be blogworthy.

I think it said that Alain de Botton Tweeted that your job is worth doing if it reduces someone's suffering or increases their joy. And I suppose, by extension, that means your job is not worth doing if it does the opposite of those two things.

Both categories can, of course, encompass advertising.

Your work can annoy and degrade people. It can belittle them, make them feel awkward and inadequate; inspire insecurity, misery, bullying and fear. It can make people's children resent them; it can promote obesity, indolence, ignorance and profligacy. On the other hand, it can comfort, encourage, educate and broaden horizons. It can inspire creativity, make people realise their potentials, save lives and reduce suffering.

In almost every brief, you have the choice to do one of the above, and that is a rare and wonderful privilege.

Striving for intelligence, tolerance, warmth, understanding and the promotion of the kinds of values that make the world a better place is a noble way to spend your working life.

Undermining any of that is wrong.

You only have a certain amount of time on this planet.

Perhaps this can all be distilled into a single simple phrase: Don't be a cunt.


One of the things I've noticed at work this year is the number of brands getting involved with Facebook.

Now Facebook may seem like a no-brainer to you but, believe me, it's not.

Up until quite recently, many clients have been reluctant to set up a presence there.

I suspect even more clients will say yes to Facebook when they read the latest report on social media by IAB UK.

According to the report, around one in five people (20.3 per cent) follow brands on Facebook. That figure is a lot higher than I thought it would be.

And way higher than the 13.4 per cent of people who follow celebrities on Facebook.

That means there are more people following brands than celebrities.

Pretty interesting, don't you think?


It was good to see a picture of Martin Boase in Campaign the other day because I can remember having a slash with him in about 1992.

We had been judging some awards thing. It was a time of great change in the industry because personal computers were just appearing at work. At HHCL, we put a computer on everybody's desk and gave everyone ten hours' individual tuition. I reckon we "got" digital before people even used that phrase.

When I mentioned this to Martin, he dismissed the whole thing as a passing fad.

He'd picked the wrong time to tell me, because I was so astonished that I nearly wet both our pairs of shoes.

I thought he might be joking, but when I asked some friends at BMP, it emerged that they had only invested in one computer, "for the art directors to play on".

Now the thing is, I just love that attitude.

As anyone who knew him could tell you, Boase was charm, assurance and persuasiveness personified.

He was so confident in his and his agency's ability that he could afford to be like that.

And that confidence is much more of an asset than a liability.

I remember reading a book on Japanese management techniques, which said that "a bad decision on Monday is better than a good decision on Friday".

It's a fascinating point.

If you have the courage of your convictions, you do stuff. If you shilly-shally, and see both sides of it, and weigh up all the pros and cons, you're nearly always going to be wrong because you'll be too late.

When you're as self-assured as Martin was, you could get it wrong, but decide a year later that computers were a good thing, and you'd still be ahead of most of the dilly-dallying belt-and-braces merchants.

But if he hadn't had that self-confidence, he never would have built one of the three greatest British advertising agencies of all time.

Steve Henry's blog,